Fifteen years as Eric Morecambe’s personal chauffeur has clearly rubbed off on Mike Fountain.
At the launch of his new book ‘Driving Mr Morecambe’, the great man’s driver was full of quips, wit and even his old boss’ famous paper bag trick. Eric would surely have been proud.
As Eric’s widow Joan, daughter Gail Stuart and nephew Michael ‘Wiggy’ Threlfall watched on, Mike regaled an audience at Morecambe Library with tales from his new autobiography, co-written with Paul Jenkinson from the official Morecambe and Wise website.
Mike was running a car hire business in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, when Eric moved there in the late 1960s,
He then became the comedian’s chauffeur in 1969 and worked for him until his death in 1984. Mike would drive Eric to shows in either of his two Rolls Royces. He met celebrities such as Cliff Richard and Harry Secombe and was Eric’s ‘sounding board’ for many of his famous comic ideas.
“When he asked me to be his chauffeur it took me all of a few seconds to make my mind up,” he said.
“What I didn’t realise was it also meant being his gardener, handyman, pool attendant and house sitter!
“But Eric really was how he appeared on the TV. He was kind, thoughful and generous. He was my friend and I miss him.
“And as he would say, my book has all the right words but not necessarily in the right order!”
Eric had such an impact on Mike’s life, he and wife Lesley left Harpenden and now live overlooking Morecambe prom where he can see the statue of his old pal every single day.
Gail Stuart said: “I’ve enjoyed the talk very much and I think the book is wonderful., a very affectionate look at their relationship. I found it very touching.”